Elizabeth Scordato, an assistant professor of biological sciences, is the lead author of a study that found the evolution of barn swallows in Asia is shaped by the Tibetan Plateau.
The results, published in the journal Ecology Letters, provide the most convincing evidence yet for the long-held hypothesis that the plateau is an important factor maintaining the vast diversity of birds found in Asia.
“The formation of a species requires the cutting off of interbreeding. Once genes stop moving from one group to another, we can get a new species,” said Scordato. “Our goal was to find out why two of these subspecies of swallows interbreed a lot over a huge region, but two other subspecies pairs barely interbreed despite being incredibly closely related to each other genetically and occurring in the same location.” MORE
Header image: Matthew Wilkins.